Is it OK to have alone time in a relationship?
Coming off of the pandemic, the amount of alone time those in a relationship have become accustomed to is much less than we have likely had in the past. To cut to the chase, wanting some time for yourself to explore your interests or just to simply recharge is completely normal. The idea of alone time sparks lots of questions. How much should or shouldn’t I take? How do I ask for it? Will my partner feel neglected? Below are some tips for how to ask for and implement alone time into your relationship, as well as some ways to know when you may need to ask for it.
How much alone time is normal?
Figuring out how much alone time is normal may be different for each couple. While most couples would prefer not to be attached at the hip, they may also prefer to avoid being glorified roommates. Finding a balance that works for you and your person will help you both feel more fulfilled in your relationship and as individuals.
According to relationship experts, one option is to divide the time you spend with your partner into 70/30. This means that, ideally, you should spend 70% of your time together and thirty percent of your time apart. During the time apart, you do you. You can continue your hobbies and enjoy your interests with other people. Remember, 70/30 is a guideline and is a great place to start. You may find that you need more or less space in your relationship. Talk to your partner about what feels best for both of you.
Common signs you need to spend more time alone
1. You’re fighting about trivial things
Small things can set us off. Perhaps it’s bickering over an errant towel on the floor or why there are dishes in the sink. While conflict is normal, these small things don’t matter. If you and your partner are continually sweating the small stuff in your relationship, you might need a little space to clear your head.
2. You’re bored
Relationships can become monotonous and routine. In simpler terms, we can become bored. You find you and your partner are talking about the same things and doing the same things. You may even feel like you’re running out of new ways to infuse life into the relationship. It’s likely that there’s nothing wrong with you, your partner, or your relationship. However, some solo time (for you and your partner) can offer up a fresh perspective on your relationship. As the old saying goes, absence makes the heart grow fonder!
3. You don’t do the things that used to make you happy
What do you do for self care? Do you enjoy taking an exercise class? Reading a book? Other hobbies? Maybe enjoying your morning coffee at a new spot? When was the last time you carved out time to do that? You may find yourself needing space to engage in the activities that “fill your cup.” Engaging in the things you love helps to recharge your energy, helping you to feel more fulfilled, and amplifying your ability to be there for others (especially your person!) Remember, you can’t pour from an empty cup, so set aside some solo time to refill it.
4. You miss your friends
Finding a supportive and complementary partner, and it’s important to remember that your life partner can’t be everything to you all of the time. Support from friends and family is just as important as support from your significant other. Friends can offer up a new perspective and can give your relationship extra space so that it doesn’t become a dumping ground for stress. Friends can also help you navigate issues within your relationship. Additionally, friends know you as an individual, especially those who knew you before your relationship. Spending time with friends can help you feel more like yourself and leave you with a clear head.
5. You don’t feel like yourself
This may be one of the most crucial signs that you need a bit of solo time. If you’re feeling out of touch with your individual identity, and feel overwhelmed in your partnership, then you likely need a bit of time to rediscover yourself. Support and connection are vital elements to a relationship, but knowing who you are outside of your relationship is a key way to staying fulfilled as an individual. If you’re not quite feeling like yourself anymore, think about how you can create some space to discover what makes you you and show up as your whole self in the relationship.
How to tell your partner you need more time for yourself
Before asking for alone time from your partner, ask yourself what alone time actually looks like for you. Do you need to leave your house for an extended period of time are you content when you’re sitting in the same room with your partner without speaking? Maybe alone time is popping in your earbuds and having permission to check out for a while? Before you have a conversation about your needs for space, take a moment to have a conversation with yourself so that you can communicate your needs with intention.
Once you know what your own needs are communicate them to your partner. Be thoughtful and specific in your ask, and ask them about their needs as well. Perhaps they have also been needing some space as well. Your partner may as how much time you need and may have questions, so keep an open mind and an open heart, and don’t hesitate to reiterate that alone time is an act of self care.
Being together all the time isn’t healthy
Not everyone has the same level of need when it comes to alone time. It’s possible that your partner needs more or less than you do. Some partners might not understand why their significant others need alone time, yet it doesn’t discount the fact that it is important. However, it’s important to come from a place of compassion when asking for alone. It’s also important to avoid speaking to your partner in a way that might make them feel as though they are wrong for needing more or less alone time than you do. Remember, some people recharge by being around others while some people recharge by taking time away.
It’s compelling to think that our need for alone time is selfish, but most couples can benefit from spending time on their own interests and hobbies. Just because the inherent need isn’t there, doesn’t mean it can’t be beneficial. That’s not to say you should tell your partner that you are doing them a favor by giving them alone time, but that you shouldn’t feel bad for expressing your need.
Spending too much time apart can be challenging
Figuring out a healthy balance of couple time and alone time can be challenging. Spending too much time together can feel suffocating. However, too much time apart can create distance, and lead to one or more partners feeling neglected.
Planning and communicating are crucial aspects of healthy relationships. Weekly check-ins can provide a healthy space for you and your partner to communicate your needs for time together and apart. Check-ins are a great way to stay on task, set boundaries, and work on compromise when it comes to making sure everyone’s space and connection needs are being met.
Focus on spending quality time together
What is your definition of quality time? Do you think it matches what your partner would say? One partner may say watching TV together is quality time, while the other partner may say a full-blown date night is their idea of quality time. Defining what quality time means to you and your partner is important to keep the connection strong in a healthy relationship.
Prioritizing quality time is important and can seem difficult at times, especially with busy schedules. One great way to prioritize quality time is to schedule things you want to do with your partner. Maybe it’s buying tickets to a comedy show or making a reservation at your favorite restaurant. Putting something on a calendar makes it more likely to happen, so try scheduling a few activities at the beginning of each month for you and your partner to look forward to.
Another way to increase quality time in your relationship is to decrease distraction. Phones are one of the biggest culprits in decreased quality time between couples. If you’re spending time together watching a show or talking about your day, try setting a “no phone” rule in an effort to make your time together feel more special.